Remembering David Bellamy (1933-2019)

Our Director of Conservation, Tim Mitcham, reflects on the unwavering passion of the late, great David Bellamy, and the vital help he gave to our Trust.

I was really sad to hear the news that David Bellamy died yesterday.  He was a great champion for wildlife at a time when there were very few high profile ‘characters’ promoting wildlife conservation on television. What a character he was and I had the pleasure of meeting and working with him several times over the years.

David was a great help to the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside: helping us, as a celebrity conservationist, to safeguard sites from destruction, including the threat to Red Moss in Bolton from waste landfilling and the potential loss of coastal lagoons on the Sefton coast.

David helped launch our Lancashire Biodiversity Action Plan in 2000 and I had the unenviable task of talking after he did at the launch. He was a quite laidback guy most of the time, but when a microphone was put in front of him or he did a talk, a new persona kicked in and he was a larger than life, passionate and very entertaining speaker. How could I possibly follow that?

A healthy bog rich with cottongrass at sunset

Bog habitat by Ben Hall/2020VISION

Of course, bogs were David's real passion. He told me this story where he had a meeting with the Environment Minister for the USSR who, having politely listened to David’s pitch for him to do more for Soviet bog conservation, severely put him in place. He reminded Mr Bellamy that the Minister managed a bog that spanned more than half the globe’s circumference and much of which was locked up in permafrost, and what could he possibly learn from someone from a small temperate offshore island in the Atlantic? Well, at least he tried!

I did a bit of radio work with David in the 1980s where he insisted that the radio presenter and crew joined him looking for invertebrates in the middle of the River Dart, and just waded in in his street clothes. The crew dutifully followed, such was his ‘great radio’ standing and belief that you needed to get up close and personal with nature to understand what’s going on.

Each generation throws up a small group of people who are able to captivate, convince and motivate. David was one of these rare animals and he will be greatly missed.